Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Significantly Less than Dry

Back in Boulder. Have been for two weeks.
By now, everyone knows the trauma of my last week in Tennessee, so I don't need to explain the flood, but I will say, it was very wet.

Leaving Olive Hill was not exactly what I wanted to do, but spending two months there was a really great way to learn about specific practices involved with organic farming. All the peppers I planted with Burt the first week I got there were in the middle of the flood, but during the last couple days of my time in Tennessee, we propped them up with hay. That life cycle was one of the most practical farming lessons I learned during my stay. You never know what nature is going to do, and it is so powerful, but that is all a part of growing plants.

Other than the plants, I really miss everyone I met in Memphis, and in the Olive Hill community. Even though it was hard to be so far away from Boulder, I didn't feel lonely at the farm, even when I was there alone. There is something about those hills that is very comforting, and everything there feels so natural and beautiful. The dogs, the music studio, the family, the neighbors, and the living plants provide such a fulfilling energy that is very inspiring, and I hope some of my Boulder people can come with me to visit it sometime!

So, anyway, that was a great summery (hot, humid, buggy) experience I feel as though it was the best way I could have spent those two months this year. Gotta get ready for tomorrow's work at Oxford Farm! A full day of harvesting awaits!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

WOW. Time sure goes by quickly! I haven't had time to update this blog for a couple weeks, so I'll try to catch y'all up on some of the fantastic occurrences at the farm.
Two weeks ago, Caitlin and I cut up hundreds of cucumbers and looked at recipes in preparation for our first attempt at PICKLING! We cut, sliced, and ate about three different kinds of cucs. Lori joined us in packing them into cute little Ball jars and we prepared some spices to flavor the simmering vinegar that we
poured over the soon to be pickles after they’re in the jars. I only scalded my hand a couple times while plopping each jar into the canner full of boiling water (that for some reason took FOREVER to boil) and every jar sealed! At the end of the slightly frantic and stressful process, we ended up with about 10 jars of varied types of pickles (well, they’re still cucumbers I guess, but in a few weeks, we’ll have PICKLES!!!!). After the first round sealed, we realized we forgot to put the dill in, but oh well.
Oh, I almost forgot! We also did a "quick pickle," of two kinds of beets.

When I had just "become a farmer," I thought I would be out in the field every day and that would be the majority of the work, but that's not exactly true. Along with growing vegetables comes even more work. Processing them.

There seems to be an abundance of tomatoes two to three times a week and instead of composting ones that can't be sold, (one's that have a ding here and there) we cut off the bad spots, and chop the rest of the tomato up to be turned into sauce. The sauce can either be frozen, or we put it on pizza or eat it with

eggplant, etc. So now, I am extremely spoiled because I eat so many tomatoes every day and have the best tomato sauce in the world. Buying that many heirloom tomatoes ever day would be extremely expensive and would destroy my apple and granola budget, so I NEED to start growing tomatoes as soon as possible when I get back to Colorado!!!!

In addition to bountiful tomatoes, we've begun harvesting eggplant (I planted some of these plants the first week I was here, so it's SUPER exciting.) There are four kinds of eggplants, and my favorites are actually not the purple ones I'm used to. The best ones are very skinny and bright green. The eggplant is my favorite one on the farm because its leaves are fuzzy and beautiful and the stem is sturdy and purple!

In the past couple weeks, I've learned how to tell if a watermelon is ripe, how to pick corn properly, (did you know that every one of the silks is attached to a kernel of corn!?!). I've watched my sweat drip onto the ground from my forehead while leaning down to pick peppers, I've gone to a potluck with friends where every dish was fresh from the garden, organic, and full of loooove. I've also been swarmed by fire ants (again) on my foot. But with my steaming rage (enhanced by the humidity,) I took the garden hoe and destroyed the anthill after jumping around the garden on one foot and trying to shake those poisonous suckers off. Yesterday we went to "The Farm," (http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/) which started as a commune in 1971. Two family friends and their three kids gave us a tour of the community and showed us the house they're building. It's completely sustainable with a greenhouse in the middle that provides energy for heating and cooling. So cool!

Every day I work with the plants, I feel like I'm getting to know them better, and it's so exciting to see the farm developing and growing. The work is very hard, but it is rewarding in several ways.

One: The outcome is a beautiful and delicious crop.

Two: I feel like I've gone to two or three Bikram Yoga classes every weekday.

Three: I'm experiencing real life farming with Alex, Lori, Hattie, Henry, Fritz, and lots of dogs, and it's super-duper fun.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Making a living and living happily

In the South, parents teach their kids about meditation. At least, Lori and Alex do. One afternoon, Hattie took it upon herself to find a way of calming down after sword fighting. She realized that not all of us had as much energy after picking hundreds of bean beetle larvae off of rows of string bean plants.We had gotten two harvests out of the beans, but before the third picking, they were swarmed by this pesky bug and we had to get rid of them.

After the long morning, Lori and I decided to make a beer run to the nearest store (about a 15 minute drive down a beautiful dirt road). On t
he way back, the air conditioner of her red pickup truck went out. Shortly after, some funky noises started up, so we costed down and puttered up the little hills to one of their Mennonite neighbors who was able to fix it up. But it was worth the drive.

WELL, that was Thursday
Yesterday, (ζ˜ŸζœŸδΊ” in Chinese,) we harvested SO MUCH STUFF.
In the mornin' I picked bulb fennel and prepared the coolers for packing 'em up for the farmer's market. When Burt arrived, (he's the fellow who has a farm an hour away and he's also "interning" with Lori and Alex three days a wee
k,) we began harvesting potatoes and lemme tell you, that was hard work! The sun was hot, even though it wasn't even 10 when we started. Finding potatoes in the dirt is kind of like finding little chunks of gold (maybe. I've never found gold, now that I think of it. Maybe it's more like finding Easter eggs.) Except they aren't eggy. They're potatoey.
So anyway, we picked four varieties of potatoes to make "red, white and blue" baskets of 'taters to sell at the market for the Fourth of Jul
y holiday weekend.
We had two kinds of beets that were actually from the farm next-acre. And their colors were amazing!!! I love beets!
There were 31 CSA members in Memphis that we made bags for, and every member got squash, cucumbers, potatoes, fennel, tomatoes (heirloo
m and smaller cherry-ish tomatoes) shitake mushrooms, eggs, bread, (neighbors make this bread for us to take to the market and sell,) carrots, beans, and lots of basil and oregano! yummy.

That's Buffy.
After the week's work, we had even more work today! But, the farmer's market was a success. I ate a whole box of blackberries and got some cinnamon honey. Oh, and we sold lots of veggies. Making a living from selling organic food is hard, but it is such a happy way to live! Yay, Memphis!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Garlic, fire ants, and pitchforks

The hard thing about farming isn't just the work. It's not the work, actually. That's the fun part. Bugs (ticks, no-see-'ems, bumble bees, fire ants, huge horseflies, etc) are the tragedy, here. The heat is secondary. Sometimes the heat is hot: hot heat-especially when you are squatting over black plastic planting eggplants. But it is so rewarding to save the lives of greenhouse eggplants that were wilting in the sun. The heat that reflects off the plastic into my face is no big deal whatsoever!
On the "eggplant planting day," Alex
also taught me how to
prepare garlic for drying and this was a very enjoyable task because I got to stand in the shade of the barn and listen to Band of Horses and CCR while tying bushels of
garlic together with wire to hang up to dry.
After garlic-ing for an hour or so, we mulched the okra and got stung by many many fire ants. Those dang things are much more bothersome than anything I've encountered in this Tennessee country!
But after the days work ended around 7, we made pizza with garlic and basil from the gardens and Hattie, Henry, Lori, Alex and myself sat around the table playing cards.
At the moment, I'm able to get online because we came into
the small town, Savannah,
about 30 minutes away to drop off the CSA food for the locals, here. This library doesn't have the best connection, so I hope the photos get posted!
P.S. Hattie (she's 6) thinks she invented apples with cinnamon sprinkled on top. If I get into any arguments on this trip, it's going to be over the issue of who invented apples with
cinnamon. Clearly, I did.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The road to memphis

The drive to Memphis was a long one, especially considering the fact that I had never even driven to Denver by myself... I got some good practice in, driving to Nederland, but even that was only about 45 minutes away from home. But with Dad's atlas and some familiar stops along the way, (Braum's, in Salina)
I managed to make it to Tulsa with no problem.

On Thursday, I drove from Boulder to Tulsa and stayed with Uncle Steve and Aunt Rita and my cousin, Ashley.

They took me to Pryor, OK on Friday to visit Granny and do a puzzle. I think I've done more puzzles with Gran than with any other person.

On Saturday I met Lori at their house in Memphis and she took me out on the town. Today, after lunch, we'll head to Olive hill, where the farm is and my first week of farmin' will begin.